Metametaphysics. On Sense and Non-sense of Ontological Disputes

“What exists?”―the core question of ontology―is not only one of the oldest questions of philosophy. It also enjoyed great popularity in the last decades of analytic philosophy. But do disputes on whether there are numbers or whether there are macroscopic objects like tables make any sense at all? The view that paradigmatic metaphysical disputes in the end don’t make any sense was defended by Rudolf Carnap more than 60 years ago in his seminal paper Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology, but went unheeded among metaphysicians because of its controversial philosophical and methodological presuppositions. Carnap’s suspicion, though, was never entirely removed and can be heard in different variants more and more frequently in the last ten years: Aren’t there, at most, merely trivial answers to ontological questions and aren’t those questions therefore of no interest? Aren’t philosophers discussing ontological questions just talking past each other? And are there objectively true and objectively false answer to ontological questions at all? In this project the question of sense and non-sense of ontological disputes is raised anew and examined against the background of current works in philosophy of language and philosophical methodology. The first sub-project explores the intuition that the answers to ontological questions are perfectly obvious and therefore trivial. The second sub-project examines whether there are objectively true or objectively false answers such questions. A third sub-project, the topic of which isn’t entirely fixed yet, is planned.

Principal Investigators
Rosefeldt, Tobias Prof. Dr. (Details) (Classical German Philosophy)

Duration of Project
Start date: 04/2012
End date: 06/2016

Tobias Rosefeldt:
2018 Should Metaphysics Care about Linguistics?; in: Journal of General Philosophy of Science 49/2, 161–178.
2017 Counting things that could exist“; in: The Philosophical Quarterly 67/266 (2017), 127-147.
2016 Antwort auf Gabriel (zusammen mit Catharine Diehl); in: Philosophisches Jahrbuch 123(2).
2015 Gibt es Markus Gabriels neuen Realismus?“ (zusammen mit Catharine Diehl); in: Philosophisches Jahrbuch 122(1).

Julia Zakkou:
2019 Embedded Taste Predicates, Inquiry, 34/2, pp 1-22.
2019 Denial and Retraction: A Challenge for Theories of Taste Predicates, Synthese, 196/4, pp 1555-1573.
2018 Faultless Disagreement. A Defense of Contextualism in the Realm of Personal Taste, Klostermann, Frankfurt/Main
2017 Jesus loves you!, Philosophical Studies, 174/1, pp 237-255.

Catharine Diehl:
In Arbeit: The Principle of Individuation in Leibniz, Kant, and Contemporary Philosophy.
In Arbeit: Metaphysical Systems That Deny Leibniz's Law. (Zusammen mit Beau Madison Mount).
2018 A Language for Ontological Nihilism. In: Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5:971-996.
2017 Ontological Nihilism and Existential Commitment, Dissertation, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.
2016 Versteckte Zahlen. In: Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung, Volume 70, Number 3, pp. 412-418(7).
2016 Antwort auf Gabriel (zusammen mit Tobias Rosefeldt); in: Philosophisches Jahrbuch 123(2).
2015 Gibt es Markus Gabriels neuen Realismus?“ (zusammen mit Tobias Rosefeldt); in: Philosophisches Jahrbuch 122(1).

Last updated on 2020-21-03 at 23:13